Inevitable push to grab AB 32 fees begins

San Diego Union Tribune, 6/14/12.

When the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger outlined plans for implementing AB 32, the state’s landmark 2006 law mandating a shift to cleaner but costlier energy, it was sensitive to the fact that poor people would suffer disproportionately from having to pay much more for electricity. Schwarzenegger aide David Crane said some of the fees the state would get from its share of emission pollution rights under AB 32’s cap-and-trade program would be used to help cushion the law’s impact on the needy.

Now, however, we are in a different place. Few with real power in Sacramento acknowledge AB 32 has a downside of any kind. Meanwhile, the desperate need for revenue to keep the status quo afloat has led many lawmakers to push to divert AB 32 fees into the general fund. Gov. Jerry Brown says some of the fees, which may reach $1 billion in 2012-13, could fund his embattled bullet-train project.

The requirement that AB 32 fees be used to directly deal with climate-change issues, including its effects on poor people, is seen as something to be gamed, not honored.

Sacramento’s warped priorities made these developments inevitable. Before long, the dubious diversion of AB 32 fees will be seen as a no-brainer. And some wonder why Californians are so cynical about their state government.

Link to full article: